Career Exploration, Part I: The Research Sequence
After assessing your interests, skills, abilities, values, and personal network, the next step is to identify and research jobs that complement what you’ve discovered about yourself. Below is the sequence of activities you’ll perform for this part of the process.
Identify the Best Resources for your Search
The following are possible resources, which will vary depending on your location:
AFB CareerConnect, a free online resource for people who want to learn about the range and diversity of jobs performed by adults who are blind or visually impaired throughout the United States and Canada. CareerConnect is a great resource for job search information and tips.
Libraries are an important resource for any job seeker. At your local library you can find books in audio or other formats, access major online research databases, and find additional information and guidance. Most libraries are moving—or have moved—some or all of their materials onto the Internet. If you don’t have a membership at your local library, schedule an appointment to join and get a tour. If most of your library’s resources and research tools are online, you might even be able to do the majority of your orientation over the phone.
Career Centers help people perform research to support professional goals. Colleges, universities, postsecondary, and vocational schools often have career centers, and many are available to the public. You may have to visit, call, or do some online research to find out what is available to you locally. Keep in mind that many of the career centers around the country maintain robust web sites accessible to anyone with an Internet connection. These sites may offer many free resources and materials.
Vocational rehabilitation helps people with disabilities prepare for entry or re-entry into the workforce. Your local vocational rehabilitation agency will offer a range of programs, resources, and services to help you get to work. In most cases, these organizations exist to help you become job-ready and find employment. Some may also train you in independent daily living, orientation and mobility, and access technology. These organizations will also know about other available resources in your community and state. To find a local or state agency near you, use AFB’s Directory of Services.
The O-Net Online web site provides the latest statistics about a wide variety of occupational fields. The site is a part of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration. For the sake of simplicity and accessibility, AFB imports O-Net information directly to AFB CareerConnect.
Establish a detailed job analysis.
A job analysis is the process through which a job seeker collects information on the duties, responsibilities, necessary skills, growth opportunities, knowledge, environment and atmosphere relating to a specific job. It’s a collection of information from a variety of sources and, when considered as a whole, creates a picture of a position that you can use to determine if a job is truly a good fit for you.
In order to perform a thorough job analysis, you will need to first identify the job you’d like to learn more about, and then seek out information from publications, online sources, people, and organizations.
Job descriptions, usually found in job postings, classified ads, and job boards, are a good entry point to learning about a specific position. A job description is the summary of an organization’s expectation for what the job entails; the major duties involved; the types of skills, special training, certification, or degrees preferred or required to perform the job; the reporting structure; wage information; status (full-time/part-time; temporary/permanent); hours; location; and other important information. Understanding the information contained in job descriptions is a central aspect of job analysis.
Generate a discrepancy analysis.
Identify the discrepancies between your skills and those required by your job of interest. Analyzing discrepancies will help you answer important questions. Is it possible to perform your job of interest given your current skills? Do you meet the minimum skill levels required, or do you need more training before you apply? Are there aspects of the job that, now that you know more about it, make it less appealing to you? Does the job take advantage of your strengths and interests? Are you overqualified for the position?
A discrepancy analysis allows you to take an objective look at what you might need to work on to make a given job or career a good choice for you. In order to be a successful job seeker, you must habitually compare your skills and aptitudes to those required by every job you consider.
Create a vocational action plan.
Based on your discrepancy analysis, steps may need to be taken in order to reach your career goal. These steps are your vocational action plan.
Creating a vocational action plan is an important step towards achieving your ultimate goal of employment. The action plan will help you maintain self-awareness, be realistic about goal setting, and break down your required progress into achievable steps.
The Job Seeker’s Toolkit
This article is based on the AFB Job Seeker’s Toolkit, a free, self-paced, comprehensive, and accessible guide to the employment process. Set up a My CareerConnect account to get started with the Toolkit—it’s an easy and fast process that will give you access to many helpful job hunting resources!
This article and The Job Seeker’s Toolkit are based on the 2nd edition of The Transition Tote System, by Karen Wolffe and Debbie Johnson (1997, American Printing House for the Blind).